How Great is Our God!

Contributed by:  Rick Armstrong, Electrical Engineer, Consultant, and CFK Volunteer, November 2011

As I reflect on our time, I’m once again amazed at how great our God is to provide for all our needs and beyond our expectations.  From all of us, thank you for your prayers and support!  Miracle after miracle occurred.  Although much was accomplished by hands, more importantly, relationships grew and hearts were touched.

Week 1

We arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday evening and begin work on Wednesday.  Before leaving the warehouse in Pyongyang where we have retrieved our supplies for the work ahead, we learn that over 2000’ of poly water pipe along with a few other items shipped from the US cannot be found.  Perhaps the rolls of pipe are still in customs or have been delivered to the work sites?  Only time will tell.

Thursday we divide and travel to job sites where well drilling begins at Hwangju TB Rest Home along with work to insulate the greenhouse.  Meanwhile, at Unpa TB Rest Home (an hour’s drive from Hwangju) unearthing the Unpa spring begins for the gravity system we hope to install here.  There are few workers to dig the 1200’ long pipe trench there.  No poly pipe is found at either site.  We return to the hotel that night to learn that Pyongyang will essentially be shut down Friday through Sunday due to the national holiday celebrations for the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK).  We’re told we can’t travel out of the city during that time.  Heidi and the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) team scramble to find the US pipes that were supposedly shipped, or an in country alternative.  The MoPH team understands our resource and time dilemma.  The thought hits us that we’ll likely not be able to finish.  We’re not happy about it but all we can do is pray and do what we can.

To our surprise on Friday, MoPH gives us permission to travel to Hwangju only, but we must return early to Pyongyang.  Well drilling continues there but progress is slow.  The Water4 team decides before we leave that the well location will be adequate, so trenching for pipes can be started by local volunteers over the weekend.  We’ll return Monday.

Saturday we can’t leave the city but are allowed to work at the National TB Reference Lab for a few hours.  That turned out to be an important visit, finding and fixing a few problems and discovering one that required parts from the US that the next team could bring a few days later.  We learn that the pipe from the US never shipped due to a supplier error, however the MoPH staff find similar pipe through a local source that will work with our US pipe fittings.  Praise God!

Saturday night and Sunday we’re given the rare privilege of witnessing the truly remarkable WPK anniversary celebrations, including the impressive military parade, all the while we’re thinking about the tasks ahead.  There will only be 3 days to complete the work; it seems an impossible task.

Week 2

We discover on Monday that work has continued slowly at Unpa.  The workers have completed less than 1/2 of the trenching for the 1200’ pipeline to an insufficient depth to prevent freezing.  It’s not for lack of effort, however; the terrain is rocky and workers are few.  We push ahead with what we can do.  Meanwhile at Hwangju, a decision by the director is made to move the solar panel frame (already installed and concreted in) closer to the facility for fear of theft or vandalism, and now 100’ further from the pump.  Pipe trenches have only been started.  The good news is that the greenhouse team has nearly completed insulating the greenhouse.

It’s now Tuesday with only two working days left. We’re discussing compromised plans at both sites as we travel to begin work.  The team nearing Unpa rest home passes a regiment of army soldiers carrying picks and shovels.  To our surprise, minutes later they come marching up the single lane dirt road to the rest home.  Everyone is excited.  By the end of a long day the 1200’ trench is done, pipe is laid, water tank and most outlets installed, and final connections are made.  The water begins to charge the 1200’ of distribution lines and begins to fill the tank from the spring.  We hope (estimate) that the output of the spring will bring the tank to about 2/3 full by the time we expect to return at mid-day tomorrow.  Meanwhile at Hwangju the greenhouse classroom training begins while the well drilling stops.  The 12 foot deep well through stony terrain yields nearly 3 gal/min which should be adequate for solar pumping to provide over 1000 gallons/day.  Progress on trenches at Hwangju is slow, but steady.  The solar panel frame is moved and reinstalled and electrical work begins.

Wednesday is our last work day at both sites.  Arriving at Hwangju we find more workers with shovels already making good progress.  Before lunch, the pump is lowered into the well and water begins to flow as we test the solar system.  The greenhouse crew successfully completes training in the afternoon.  Meanwhile, on the way to Unpa, our MoPH colleague receives a phone call on his cell phone from the director of Unpa who tells him that the 2200 gallon tank was filled to overflowing at 1AM, and the local residents are “mad with joy” at the volume and pressure of the water in their new system.  Upon arrival at Unpa, the water team is greeted by excited rest home attendants and local residents.  The Unpa team completes the work, enjoys a quick celebratory lunch hosted by Unpa Rest Home, and heads for Sariwon TB Rest Home to complete an assessment for a possible future water project there.  Then it’s on to Hwangju to assist.  It’s all hands on deck as everyone participates in the completion of the Hwangju water project.  By 7 PM (and in the gathering darkness) the job is done except for back-filling the trenches.  As we return to the hotel in Pyongyang and prepare to leave for home, we each have a story to tell of how God worked out the details of our day to a successful ending.  Simply amazing.  How great is our God!

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Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

— Bible, Psalm 46:10
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